Boris Johnson on possible easing of international travel rules
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The prime minister spoke for the first time alongside chief medical officer Chris Whitty in Downing Street’s new refurbishing £2.6 million media briefing room. Mr Johnson celebrated the loosening of social distancing restrictions outside, even urging the public to take advantage of their additional freedoms.
But the sheen of the presidential-style briefing room did nothing to distract from the elephant in the room.
The question millions of Brits were wondering was, when they are allowed to book restaurants and domestic holidays in mid-May, will they need a Covid passport.
Unfortunately for them, Mr Johnson fell far short of giving anything like an answer to this crucial question.
This is despite senior cabinet minister Michale Gove launching a charm offensive to persuade sceptical MPs to back the exact same scheme.
The proposals, under which venues such as pubs could be asked to see proof of vaccination or recent tests before allowing entry, has already met significant opposition from Tories and Lib Dems alike.
Appearing before MPs last week, Mr Johnson said pubgoers could be asked to provide proof they have been inoculated, saying this “may be up to individual publicans”.
He later backtracked and failed to address the burning issue yesterday.
In response, Sky’s political editor Beth Rigby slammed the prime minister
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Writing on Sky’s website, she said: “While the prime minister has told us when our lives will be unlocked, we’re still in the dark about what our ‘new normal’ will look like.
“There are a number of reviews – on Covid certifications, international travel and social distancing – that are still underway.
“We don’t yet know if we’ll be allowed into the pub without some sort of proof we’re Covid-free, or be allowed to fly away on a summer holiday.”
She went on to explain how Mr Gove is in charge of the Covid certification review and held a round table discussion with cross-party MPs yesterday.
A source at the meeting told the journalist that pragmatic MPs are prepared to accept Covid ‘papers’ as long as they are temporary.
But there are also libertarian Tories and Lib Dems who will resist this sort of surveillance regardless, she said.
Ms Rigby continued: “While the review is ongoing, Whitehall sources have been clear that some sort of Covid certification – be that proof of a Covid vaccine, immunity or negative test – will play a role in our domestic daily lives.
“Mr Gove promised MPs appropriate parliamentary scrutiny – debates or votes – should the government opt for such measures.
“The roadmap is settled and on track, the country now finally moving in the right direction – hopefully along a one-way road out of lockdown.
“But what living with Covid looks like beyond the end of lockdown on 21 June is still a work in progress.
“Covid has not just changed our lives over the past year, it could change our future liberties too.”
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